Background The role of sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy in melanoma care remains controversial and is not included in most guidelines for the management of melanoma in Europe.
Objective To evaluate the practice of SLN biopsy for melanoma.
Methods In 2008, a self-administered questionnaire was mailed to physicians in 49 hospitals in France.
Results Questionnaires were returned by 34 (69.3%). A median number of 90 new cases of melanoma were treated each year per centre. SLN biopsy was performed routinely in 21 (61.7%) centres. The practice of SLN biopsy for melanoma was recommended in the local guidelines in 53% of centres. The proportion of patients reported as undergoing SLN biopsy for melanoma was significantly higher in centres with local guidelines than in centres without local guidelines (33.4 ± 21.4% vs. 13.1 ± 21.8%; P = 0.003). Where the local guidelines recommended SLN biopsy (n = 21), it was advocated in the case of Breslow thickness ≥1.0 mm (76%) and/or ulceration of the primary melanoma (38%) and/or histological regression of the primary melanoma (24%).
Conclusion Our study may be considered representative of SLN practice in France. Contrary to current national guidelines for melanoma care in France, SLN biopsy is routinely recommended in the majority of centres. Our study shows that the practice of SLN biopsy for melanoma is increasingly performed in patients with intermediate Breslow melanoma.